In response to recent news stories involving Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Roy Moore, etc. – on the topics of sexual harassment, assault, rape, groping, etc., a University of Georgia law professor shares her perspectives on all of these subjects, along with the MeToo movement. We also discuss these issues in a Mormon context.


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  1. Elder Van Halen November 29, 2017 at 11:02 am - Reply

    John and Mehrsa,

    Thanks for a great discussion! I think it is very timely that this podcast interview is being launched on the same morning where the big headline of the day is Matt Lauer being terminated from NBC and his Today Show host job for sexual harassment/misconduct. Another stunning story where everyone is pained to hear about a celebrity taking advantage of their position, power, money, or influence to sexually harass co-workers or other victims.

    I don’t want to take away anything from the current societal discussion/crisis where these stories are coming out on a weekly basis. However, I have been thinking that I would love to hear a male and female panel talk about Joseph Smith and the way he approached many of his plural wives in a way to groom his intended plural wife targets. I think there are too many similarities in Joseph Smith’s behavior where he used his power and influence as a Prophet to win people over to his way of thinking.

    These behaviors include:
    1. Using a Father or Brother to influence the younger daughter or sister to the principal of plural marriage.

    2. Promises to families of these young women that through his power and authority as a Prophet, the marriage would seal their families together and would confirm a place for everyone in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. Regardless of sin, or children who drift away from the Mormon gospel, the marriages would cast a saving net upon everyone in the family to be united in the Celestial Kingdom. Very persuasive for people who are open to the influences of a person like JS.

    3. Telling the younger women who were devoted to the faith that he would be destroyed (by an angel with a flaming sword) if they didn’t enter into a marriage with him.

    4. Grooming many of his in-home hired nanny’s and housekeepers to win them over to the principal of plural marriage using his influence as an older Prophet.

    5. Requiring his inner circle to total secrecy of his actions and activities in order to keep it out of the public eye, and away from his first wife Emma.

    I see his practices as so close to our current day headlines that I think it needs to be addressed and talked about. Something to think about for a future Mormon Stories podcast.

    Thanks John and Mehrsa!

  2. Kirk November 29, 2017 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    So, John says, “. . . and Donald Trump.” And Mehrsa says, “Forget that.” Why? why are we forgetting that? That’s one thing (maybe the only thing) that Trump got right: He COULD go out and shoot someone dead on Fifth Avenue and his support wouldn’t waver. That’s why the Trumpettes are winning: they stand by their men. Mehrsa is right to the extent that there is very little point in discussing the fact that Trump has ADMITTED to offenses as bad as Moore’s and worse than Franken’s, because he is unconditionally supported by almost half of the voting public and THEY are bolstered by the corporate oligarchy and a toadying legislature, giving them an almost unassailable position. If Al Franken gropes a woman, we progressives want to drop him like a handful of diarrhea. If Trump ADMITS to sexually assaulting strange women, his “base” doubles down behind him, same with Moore (though he hasn’t admitted to anything yet).

    Putting progressive liberals up against Trumpettes is like the old Bonobo vs. Crocodile conundrum from Philosophy 101. Bonobos are a far higher life form than crocodiles, but in a one-on-one match, the bonobo is going down every time. If we don’t grow some teeth and claws, we will be subjugate to the reptile brain forever.

    • DB Cooper December 4, 2017 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      Al Franken has not been dropped. He is still in office. Conyers is still in office. No liberals are beating the drums for their resignations.

      Maybe that’s coming later, but it hasn’t happened yet.

      No liberal called for Bill Clinton to resign during his many scandals. And he was accused of RAPE. When he lied to Congress and to the public about having an affair with a woman less than half his age and that worked for him and in which relationship there was a huge power imbalance. Not one single Democrat voted for his removal. Not one. They voted in lockstep.

      • Kirk Smith December 4, 2017 at 7:52 pm - Reply

        So don’t blame the Republicans, they’re just copying the Democrats? Is that what you’re saying?

        • DB Cooper December 5, 2017 at 9:19 am - Reply

          Of course not. It is not okay for anyone from any party to commit crimes, abuse power, or assault people. You claimed Democrats would drop someone for groping someone. But they haven’t and they don’t.

  3. Getting better November 30, 2017 at 9:55 am - Reply

    I definitely agree with Kirk on this issue. I live nearby to a very active LDS elderly couple who often get a question from me about Trump’s deplorable actions. Their usual answer is something like, “We just listen to the radio for our news and know little of what’s going on. Besides, why should we be concerned about such issues? It doesn’t affect our salvation.” I have another active neighbor on the other side of me who seems to have the same notion.

    Residing in such a very conservative, almost “alt. right” geographical area, containing a fair number of LDS, I am continually amazed at newspaper editorials praising our “moral” president. Rural areas seem to be prone to such uninformed outcries.

    Thank you, Mersha, for your statements. I can sure feel the anguish and frustration in your voice. I can feel the hope, too. I’m afraid that the number of incidents will continue but will also be like other discrimination issues–just fade into history.

    As a male, I can see how women would be fearful in many situations. I continually realize situations where I can intimidate my wife. I am bigger in stature and just my knowing that can give off a feeling of superiority. I emphasize with women everywhere and in all cultures, but I need to realize how easily I can contribute to such problems. So thanks again, Mersha, for helping me see my own male failings.

  4. Tom November 30, 2017 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    John: When will you interview people who have substantial information that Joseph and Hyrum and Emma Smith were not involved with polygamy?

    • Yitzhak December 1, 2017 at 9:59 am - Reply

      I would imagine that will be as soon as such people exist. Unfortunately, historical evidence is such that there are no people like that.

    • Evan Kendall December 1, 2017 at 3:34 pm - Reply

      @Tom, it would be helpful in you referenced the sources you believe credibly support the claim

  5. Jay November 30, 2017 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    Great interview. I like Mehrsa’s perspective and discussion of the subtleties of these issues.

    Some day I’d love to see the dam break on the way children are treated in our society. I see so many similarities between the way women are treated in our society – per this discussion – and the way children are treated. But the children have to contend with a world of adults and nowhere to turn, to confide, to get encouragement.

  6. DB Cooper December 4, 2017 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    Ugh!!!! I wanted to pull my hair out during this episode. Men were painted in a broad brush in the discussion and almost always in an unfavorable way.

    I’m sure Merhsa is a fantastic person and I would be fortunate to count her as a friend if we ran in the same circles. I loved hearing her perspective on the experience of women and the current events of all the sexual predators that have come to light.

    But the parts that hurt me was and that I wanted to scream into my phone about were the unchallenged assertions that men have it great, that everything comes easy for them, that everyone automatically respects them, that all men climb to the top of power hierarchies.

    I’m not discounting the hardships, challenges, injustices, and dangers that women face and have always faced. Those are real.

    But men have their share of dangers, fears, and insides too. More men die from murder. Men are more likely to die from dangerous jobs. Men don’t usually have to worry about sexual assault, but they do have to worry about other men that will beat, rob or kill them. Men have to be prepared to sacrifice their lives defending women and children.

    Mehrsa expressed a desire that women weren’t objectified and judged on looks etc. Fair enough. But men are judged on how tall they are, their income, their job status, their athletic ability, their assertiveness, whether or not they are the quarterback or pitcher, their ability to physically defend their mate, their resources. Why is that okay? Biology. Genetic screening over millennia.

    Life is hard for both genders.

    • DB Cooper December 5, 2017 at 9:46 am - Reply

      “insides” was a typo from auto-correct. I don’t recall what word I meant to use, but it wasn’t “insides”.

  7. DB Cooper December 4, 2017 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    I take issue with Mehrsa’s assertion that professors and teachers that are men are automatically more respected in class more women.

    Students test the resolve of men too. There are always some dominant personalities of either gender that challenge the teacher in a classroom and that test the boundaries and see how much they can get away with. The same is true of sports teams, primary class, project teams, scout troop, work group, ward council, or pretty much any group. Subordinates test leaders.

    The method that Merhsa described of quickly suppressing challengers and being stern at first and then warning up over time is good advice for either gender. Students will walk over any teacher of either gender that they see as a pushover.

  8. DB Cooper December 4, 2017 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Sorry, me again. I take issue with John’s statement that Hillary Clinton was the most qualified candidate that ever read for office. She rode to notoriety on Bill’s coattails. She isn’t the slightest bit charismatic. She is the most corrupt politician that ever ran for president.

    If you don’t like Trump and think he was a playboy and scoundrel, and is braggadocious and boisterous, fine. But we dodged a bullet by not getting Hillary as president.

    Hillary’s entire career has involved taking bribes and selling access to her office dating back decades. It started with making a statistically impossible return on futures trades while the pair was in power in Arkansas. She has only gotten more brazen with time. Hillary is not for women. She is for herself and power and money. Hillary vehemently defended and enabled bill in all his sexcapades. She openly attacked and besmirched Bill’s rape victims. The trail of dead bodies from early, untimely, and mysterious deaths that has followed the Clintons is staggering. While secretary of state, Hillary allowed the Russians to take control of 20 percent of the nation’s uranium supply while she and Bill were paid close to $200 million by the Russians in bribes.

    The Clintons have only held government jobs. But they have amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in net worth. How did they do that without taking payoffs?

    I’d be perfectly fine with a woman president. That would be great if she is a good person and a good leader. But not someone who is corrupt and evil.

    Most corrupt ever!! We dodged a bullet.

  9. Sean December 6, 2017 at 8:43 am - Reply

    John, with all due respect, I found this episode to be a irrational, histrionic diatribe against a broad swath of men lacking any type of intellectual reasoning or meaningful merit. While I tend to be moderate in most of my political stances and can explore the issues in a well-balanced manner, this discussion was anything but. When dealing with such a serious topic it is important to maintain composure and reason.

    May I suggest that episodes like this are a real turn-off for most normal individuals who do not relate to the dramatic flourishes. Your guest seems to be determined to force her unbalanced point-of-view into the limelight without the customary restraints of mature commentary.

    This is the second episode I have fully listened to with this particular guest and I am disappointed with your accolades about the excellence of discussion she brings.

    • jay December 8, 2017 at 5:11 am - Reply

      “When dealing with such a serious topic it is important to maintain composure and reason.”

      At least you realize it’s a serious topic.

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